Flags Across the Harvest #5October 31, 2018
My proudest accomplishment.
Though I share much with the audience of my website and podcast, there is a distinct difference in my path in life when compared to many of you.
Whereas most of you are involved with farming as their primary business, the Bohacz Family was not blessed with enough ground to make that a reality. Thus, I always worked off the farm. That did not make me any less passionate or insulated from the trials and tears feeding the world delivers… but instead put a longing in my heart to be one with the land and not town. Often, you must leave to find your way back home.
At first glance this may be exactly what most self-help books tell you to do. They convince you that if you are doing what you love then it is not a job.
Making a living away from the farm is nowhere near as glamorous or secure as it appears from the seat of a tractor. Simply put, you just change one set of problems for another.
As a young boy I was blessed with a wonderful mother that taught me many things that I will carry with me to the end of my days. One that she always made clear was SPS… self-praise stinks. She wanted me to be the best I can be at whatever I did but to also remain humble.
In the old days it was honorable to be humble. I still go by that edict even though the world is now full of those who falsely pump themselves up to get ahead. On my desk I have a saying that if you put the Lord first, all things will fall into their proper place or drop out of your life. I learned that lesson the hard way.
I would like to humbly share with you an accomplishment that I am the proudest of. This is not being done to brag but rather to inspire; how an obscure business such as a drag race shop can turn out some great things much more important than horsepower.
Though my account takes place in an engine shop, life could very easily write the same story on a farm or ranch.
My script has only two cast members, Joseph Fenske and Sharon Hammond.
I met Joey when he attended a seminar on GM electronic fuel injection I was delivering in Sparta, N.J. I do not remember him being in the class. About a year later he walked into my shop asking for a job. He had tried to locate me for that entire year.
At the time he was working in a gas station and wanted to learn more about cars and engines. He was also attending the Teterboro School of Aeronautics to become an aircraft mechanic. Joey had a year or two to go before graduating.
This kid is what America is about. He is honest, smart, hard working, wanted to do his best and never looked at the clock. He would go to school all day and then come to my shop and work with all his heart and go home and study. The next day he did it all over again. He graduated the aviation school with the highest honor, the top of his class.
Much to my dismay he chose to stay on with me instead of going to work on airplanes. I told him that I believed it was a mistake and he would have a better future in aviation then with a small race engine shop. He did not listen.
During his tenure with me I would have talks with him as if he were my younger brother. Joey was so talented and smart that I did not want him to waste his life working with me. I convinced him to go to back to school to get an engineering degree. I gave him my S-10 to go to The Kettering Institute in Flint, Michigan (the former General Motors Institute) for a tour of the campus. He came back all pumped-up.
Due to family constraints Joey did not attend the Kettering Institute but enrolled locally in NJIT studying electrical engineering. He went to school and worked at my shop.
Sharon Hammond came to me as the younger sister of a friend’s fiancé. She was a shy girl that needed a job and I required someone to answer the phones and run my office.
Little did I know how shy she was. The first time I told her to call a supplier in California, unbeknownst to me she was so frightened she had to call her mother and ask what to do.
Sharon told me about that years later and we both laughed until we cried. As dedicated, smart, loyal and enthusiastic as Joey was in the shop, Sharon was in the office. These two young kids became the corner stone of my business and the most trusted employees that anyone could ever ask for. I was blessed to have them walk through my front door.
In the manner that I encouraged Joey, I did the same for Sharon. I wanted her to go back to school and get an education and make more of her life than I could offer.
In 1996 due to a confluence of events I had to close my business and sell off all the equipment. Sharon and Joey stayed with me until I gave the key to the door back to the landlord. They never left my side.
At the time I had built some of the fastest streetcars in the country, but nothing makes me prouder than Sharon and Joey. Now for the rest of the story.
Joey graduated with honors with an electrical engineering degree and worked successfully in the field until he decided to go back to school and become a patent attorney. I am proud to say that like everything else Joey does, it was done with excellence. The kid that built his first motor in my shop (a 302 Ford) is now a well-respected attorney that can port a cylinder head, degree a cam, weld and file fit rings with the best of them.
Sharon and I lost touch for a few years but then she sent me a beautiful hand-written letter, thanking me for the years we worked together. She went to college and earned a wonderful job as the executive assistant to the president of a major pharmaceutical company.
Sharon wrote that she learned more from me then while earning a master’s degree. She made clear that I was the catalyst for her success. Tears rolled from my eyes when I read her words.
Just recently someone asked me what I was the proudest of. Was it one of my books, an engine or car that I built, or my website and podcast?
I told them none of those things. It is Sharon and Joey.